The Riots

I know nothing about The Riots, except they're from Russia, look sharp and make great music. This is called Tomorrow and, if it's anything to go by, I'm going to be checking out more from them as soon as possible.

 

The Knickerbockers

Another slice of mid-sixties garage comes from The Knickerbockers. They came from Bergenfield, New Jersey, and the classic line up consisted of Beau Charles (guitar/vocals), John Charles (bass/vocals), Bobby Randell (vocals/sax) and Jimmy Walker (drums). "Lies" was a hit from 1966, in spite of being seen by many as reminiscent of The Beatles (not unusual at that time). Whatever, I think this tune has stood the test of time and was featured on the original Nuggets album.

 

The Cigarettes - All We Want Is Your Money

Featured a late seventies gem from The Cigarettes a while back.  Here's another classic from 1979.  They were tight, they were sharp, they were hard-edged.  A band with a legacy that is well worth revisiting.

 

When Quadrophenia opened at Pretty Green

Getting in the mood already for Friday's Quadrophenia documentary.  Let's remind ourselves of when Pretty Green played host to Quadrophenia towards the end of last year.  Complete with THAT tune.

 

Towerbrown - Let's Paint It Brown

There are times when you just need something to put a smile back on the face and help you forget those Euro 2012 woes.  You don't have to look a lot further than this little beauty from last year.  Put the soul shoes on.

 

Quadrophenia - BBC4

Looks like Friday 29 June will be another when the tv should be tuned to BBC4.

As well as a screening of the film from 1979 and The Who Live At The Electric Proms, there is a new documentary.

This is what it says on the BBC4 site:

"In his home studio and revisiting old haunts in Shepherds Bush and Battersea, Pete Townshend opens his heart and his personal archive to revisit 'the last great album the Who ever made', one that took the Who full circle back to their earliest days via the adventures of a pill-popping mod on an epic journey of self-discovery.

But in 1973 Quadrophenia was an album that almost never was. Beset by money problems, a studio in construction, heroin-taking managers, a lunatic drummer and a culture of heavy drinking, Townshend took on an album that nearly broke him and one that within a year the band had turned their back on and would ignore for nearly three decades.

With unseen archive and in-depth interviews from Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, John Entwistle and those in the studio and behind the lens who made the album and thirty page photo booklet. Contributors include: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Ethan Russell, Ron Nevison, Richard Barnes, Irish Jack Lyons, Bill Curbishley, John Woolf, Howie Edelson, Mark Kermode and Georgiana Steele Waller."

Set your sky plus now.

Bowie on BBC4

Interesting Friday night watching a set of programmes about David Bowie on BBC4.  My favourite was the first, David Bowie And The Story Of Ziggy Stardust, a documentary presented by Jarvis Cocker, on the influences behind Ziggy, featuring input from Woody Woodmansy and Trevor Bolder of the Spiders From Mars, along with keyboard player Mike Garson - whose work on Aladdin Sane was so memorable - mime artist Lindsay Kemp, Mick Ronson's widow Suzi Ronson and Elton John.  Other contributors included Gary Kemp, Dylan Jones, Marc Almond and Steve Harley.

The documentary covered Bowie's Anthony Newley influenced background, through his first solo album on Deram, then Space Oddity, The Man Who Sold The World and Hunky Dory.   Bowie's involvement with artists such as Mott The Hoople, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop in the seventies was also covered.  There was a good selection of archive footage from throughout his career and comment on his significant influence on future generations.

The other programmes started with The Genius Of David Bowie - a selection of clips from the seventies onward, such as Space Oddity, Queen Bitch and Rebel Rebel, along with performances from those Bowie-influenced artists like Mott The Hoople and Lou Reed.  Then there was Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars, the legendary film of the farewell Ziggy performance at Hammersmith Odeon on 1973, and David Bowie At The BBC, a concert recorded at the BBC Radio Theatre.

All in all, well worth a look while the programmes are still available on the iplayer.

Birthday - Paul Weller

Happy Birthday Sir Paul McCartney.  70 today.  And, to mark the occasion, Paul Weller has recorded a rather good version of the White Album classic, Birthday.  It's available to download from Itunes today, for one day only. This is the tune.

 

High Numbers at The Railway Hotel

This piece of footage was released a few years back as part of The Who's Amazing Journey DVD. It is of the band in their High Numbers days playing at the Railway Hotel in Harrow. Some of the film is recognisable from the I Can't Explain video which was featured a while back.

The story behind the footage is explained at the outset. Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp were looking for a band to appear in a film they were making on the London mod scene. They happened upon the Railway Hotel one night and caught the band in its early R&B glory. They didn't have to look any further for the band they were seeking - though they did suggest a return to their previous name - The Who - after the brief excursion to the Pete Meaden inspired High Numbers.

The tunes are Jesse Hill's Ooh Pooh Pah Doo and Smoky Robinson and The Miracles' I Got To Dance To Keep From Crying, both of which were by all accounts key mod tunes of the day. There's also a brief shot of the venue itself early on in this footage, which appeared on the gatefold sleeve of the 1971 compilation Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy.  I can't believe this was lost for forty years. I find it inspirational.

 

Jake Bugg

It's good to see that Nottingham singer/songwriter Jake Bugg is breaking through to achieve national recognition, as his recent appearance on Jools Holland demonstrates.  Jake writes tunes that combine melody and incisive social commentary about life in modern Britain, kitchen sink pop songs for the twenty first century, if you like. They're delivered with a wry, observant eye, that could be seen as reminiscent of a young Bob Dylan, had he come from the East Midlands. Phrasing is original, blending an intonation that reminds me of old blues masters with something altogether more contemporary.  You can find out more about him on his website and his Facebook page. This is his new single, Lightning Bolt.

 

On The Road - trailer

Following the posting of the piece on The Original Scroll yesterday, this is the trailer for the film, which is released later this year.  Sam Riley plays Sal ParadiseJack Kerouac, Garrett Hedlund - Dean Moriarty/Neal Cassidy and Kristen Stewart - Marylou/Luanne Henderson.

It looks like most of the important quotes are in there, including the opening line and the "the only people for me are the mad ones....".  It also seems to capture the mood well, in particular that specific era in jazz history, "somewhere between its Charlie Parker Ornithology period and another period that began with Miles Davis".

Only a full viewing will prove whether Kerouac's most famous novel has survived its transition to film.  It is out in September.

 



On The Road - The Original Scroll

I’ve recently been reading “On The Road - The Original Scroll”. For Kerouac afficionados, its publication of in 2007 was an moment off some importance. For the first time, it was possible to read the uncorrected manuscript, as Kerouac first wrote it, on a single scroll, in those three mad weeks over half a century ago.

When you first open the book, the first thing that hits you is that the manuscript is a single paragraph, with very little conventional punctuation. More importantly from the perspective of the history of the novel, the characters are there with their real names. So, instead of Dean Moriarty, we have Neal Cassidy, and rather than Carlo Marx, there is Allen Ginsberg.

There are also significant differences in the text. Contrary to legend surrounding the non-editing of spontaneous prose poetry, Kerouac clearly made changes (such as adding paragraphs) to ensure publication. As an example of textual alterations, compare the first lines. In the traditionally published version, this reads:

“I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with the miserably weary split up and my feeling that everything was dead”.

The original scroll, on the other hand, reads:

“I first met Neal not long after my father died…I had just gotten over a serious illness that I won’t bother to talk about except that it really had something to do with my father’s death and the awful feeling that everything was dead”.

I also love editor, Howard Cunnell’s, description, in the “Note On The Text“, of the opening line suggesting the “sound of a car misfiring before starting up for a long journey”.

I find “On The Road - The Original Scroll” to be fresher, more immediate and having a greater clarity than the traditional published version. As the New York Times put it (quoted in the blurb on the back cover) “the sparse and unassuming scroll is the living version for our time”. I cannot recommend it more highly. It is available in paperback at the usual places.

Note - wrote this a couple of years back and it appeared at various places on the web. Re-posted here in view of the release of the film of On The Road this year.

Corduroy

The sun's come out briefly and is starting to push minds towards warmer climes.  It's just the moment to put on something with a groove that seems to be made for long Summer nights, watching the sun set on a distant ocean.  Take a step back to the halcyon days of Acid Jazz, when a band called Corduroy (brothers Scott and Ben Addison, Richard Searle and Simon Nelson-Smith) released the defining album of the genre with Dad Man Cat. This tune is Skirt Alert.

The Ray - Go Go Go

I featured A Little Bit Of Sunshine by The Ray last week. Hot on the heels, they've released this monster. Go Go Go has that nice and dirty garage feel all over it. I love the guitar sound they've captured, and the organ in the background. Not to mention the lazy vocal drawl that fits the tune and its lyrics perfectly. A tune that was made to be turned up very loud indeed.

 

Little Night Terrors - Witches

Following on from the post about Little Night Terrors, this is their first single Witches. I love the straight ahead, no nonsense feel on this one, and the guitar sound is spot on.  The video is, of course, packed with references.  How many can you spot?

 

Fred Perry Subculture - Mods

Interesting short film that was on Channel 4 last night. It's part of the Fred Perry Subculture season and is about Mods. Contains comment from Eddie Piller, Jeff Dexter, Wayne Hemingway, Peter York, Norman Jay. Worth checking.

 

Four Tops

No particular reason for posting this. Simply that The Four Tops were one of Motown's finest, that this is my favourite of their tunes, and that I love this vid. They've got the look and the moves off perfectly here. Hence the need to post. Enjoy.

 

Little Night Terrors

Little Night Terrors are the latest promising band to come out of the fair city of Leicester. They have been formed by brothers Andy Stone (guitar/vocals) and James Stone (drums), who have teamed up with Dan Holyoak (bass).  The Stone brothers were half of local legends The Displacements a few years back, who's single Frontline Hearts was released as a limited edition on Stiff records.  1000 copies were pressed which promptly sold out.

But we're not talking here about past glories.  Little Night Terrors are very much of the present and are  keeping the rock and roll tradition alive with an infectious, full on sound that combines perfect pop sensibility and straight ahead guitar-fuelled adrenalin - and which is more than capable of blasting through the sea of dross that surrounds us.  They've just completed a tour and are busy planning the next.  Upcoming dates include Sheffield Tramlines Festival on 21 July and Leicester's Summer Sundae on 18 August.  They've also released a couple of top notch singles - Pocket Rocket (Where The Light Is) and The Witches - and are working on another with producer Simon Barnicott.

Find out more on their website and their Facebook page.  This is their immensely catchy single Pocket Rocket (Where The Light Is).

 

The Small Faces

Note:  I wrote this a few years back, for the legendary indie/mod site Sohostrut.  I'm in a Small Faces mood today.  So I've decided to post it here as well.

The Small Faces were the ultimate mod band. They had the threads, the look, the attitude. And some fantastic tunes to boot. It is a much quoted fact that, unlike some of their peers, they were mods before they came together, the real deal. It is likely that this fact alone accounts for their authenticity and enduring fascination.

They were central to the London of the mid sixties. And like many great bands, they have their legends - particularly front man, East Ender Steve Marriott. How he used to busk at bus stops with a ukulele as a boy, starred as the Artful Dodger in the original version of Lionel Bart’s “Oliver” (it was here that he made his first record) and set fire to a building at school, after which his mother enrolled him at the Italia Conti Drama School. And how he and fellow cockney Ronnie “Plonk” Lane met in the J60 music shop, where Steve was working, in 1965. Ronnie was looking for a bass. He found much more.

Both Marriott and Lane had played in bands already, Steve in The Moonlights, Ronnie in The Outcasts. They clicked immediately. Ronnie took Steve along to a gig which his band of the time, The Pioneers - who had a drummer called Kenny Jones - were playing. Steve and Ronnie consumed copious amounts of whisky. And when Marriott joined the band for a jam, it was a complete riot, which led to the destruction of a piano. The result was that The Pioneers were no more and the three of them decided to get a band together themselves.

With the recruitment of keyboard player Jimmy Winston (who Steve knew from the J60 music bar) the first line up of the band was complete.  The Small Faces, as they were now known, on account of the height of the three founder members, embarked on various dates and were soon signed up by Don Arden, one of the key London figures of the sixties. As well as expense accounts at some of London’s most exclusive boutiques, they acquired a record deal with Decca and released their seminal first single on 6 August 1965 - the hard edged mod classic “What’cha Gonna Do About It”. It reached number 14 in the charts.

There was soon a change of personnel, with ex-Boz and the Boz People keyboard player Ian McLagan replacing Jimmy Winston. The reasons for the change are still debated to this day, although Winston was accomplished musically - especially on guitar - and had significant stage presence. The band continued its development and with both lineups produced some of the most accomplished and full on R&B ever played in the UK".  Listen to tunes such as “Shake” and “Come On Children” to get a feel of what their live show was all about. As well as Hammond instrumentals like “Grow Your Own”. And they unleashed singles such as “Sha La La La Lee“, “Hey Girl“ and “My Minds Eye“, along with an album “The Small Faces“.

This creative period arguably reached its pinnacle with their anthemic number one in August 1966 “All Or Nothing”, which was released on 5 August 1966, just a day short of a year (and a World Cup win) after their debut. It remains for me one of the defining moments of the band‘s career. But things were starting to cool with their management. There were financial arguments and they wanted more say in their creative output. In 1967 The Small Faces signed for Andrew Loog Oldham’s agency and Immediate record label. It was here that they developed their style, as they focussed less on playing live and more on their new found freedom in the studio. Their first single for Immediate was brilliant. “Here Comes The Nice” a drug referencing anthem, one of their most enduring tunes.

It was followed by a succession of classics. "Tin Soldier" was one of their towering achievements, an inspirational piece of soulful rock, with P P Arnold on backing vocals. "Itchycoo Park" became the band’s most famous tune, finding its way onto a host of compilations, in spite of its obvious drugs overtones. And then came their finest hour. "Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake" came packaged in a replica tobacco tin and was perfect for the Summer of 1967. In the wake of Sergeant Pepper, the concept album was the flavour of the period. "Ogdens’" told the story of Happiness Stan who was looking for the far side of the moon.

The music was perfection. The title track always sounds to me to be perhaps the first acid house tune. “Lazy Sunday” had its roots in the music hall song. “Happydaystoytown” was pure cockney singalong. “Afterglow (Of Your Love)” , “Song Of A Baker” and “Rollin’ Over” have gone down as gems. “Ogdens’” was a milestone in rock music, combining psychedelia with pure English eccentricity. It sounds just as good all these years later.

But things could not continue on a high. Although Immediate released one more album, a compilation of old and new songs, as well as the single “The Universal”, there were frustrations at not being able to play later “Ogdens” tracks live. And Marriott wanted to play real R&B again. He suggested that they should bring The Herd’s Peter Frampton into the band but this idea was rejected by the other three. Neither did he feel the band was playing together well live - with the result that stormed off stage at London’s Alexandra Palace on New Years Eve 1969, leaving the other three to play with Alexis Korner. Soon afterwards, Steve left The Small Faces and formed Humble Pie with Frampton.

The rest, as they say, is history. Immediate cashed in on the final recordings and released “The Autumn Stone” as a single. The other three looked for a new future. Sadly neither Marriott nor Lane are with us any longer. Steve died in a house fire in 1991, Ronnie was finally unable to fight his crippling illness, multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed on 1981, and died in 1997. Both are greatly missed by music lovers everywhere.

But back then in 1969, a year that seems an age away to us early twenty first century ravers, it was destined to be different. A new world was waiting as on the scene appeared two spiky haired former mods. Each had a taste for alcohol. Each wanted to have it large. And in the end they did. But that is another story.

The Strypes - Route 66

Just come across this little belter. It's those Strypes boys again, with their version of Route 66. It was again filmed at the Imperial, Cavan, by gig chronicler extraordinaire, Finn Keenan. Shades of the Goldhawk, I think.  Turn it up.

 

The Standells

More mid-sixties American garage rock.  The Standells have legendary status amongst aficionados of the genre.  Hailing from LA, they went through various personnel changes, before arriving at their classic line up  of Larry Tamblyn (keyboards), Tony Valentino (guitar), Gary Lane (bass) and Dick Dodd (drums/vocals).  Minor points of interest are that Tamblyn's brother was actor Russ and that original drummer - Gary Leeds - went on to play under his original name of Gary Walker for The Walker Brothers.

The Standells are best known for their tune Dirty Water, which charted in the US in 1966.  It also has the honour of appearing on the original Nuggets album of 1972.  With its dirty, in you face, vocals, forged in the gutter feel and incessant riff, this is timeless class.